GENEVA, November 12, 2015 – A coalition of 50 Venezuelan and international human rights activists, including Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, sent an appeal today (see text below) to all UN ambassadors in Geneva, urging them to stay away from tomorrow’s special UN Human Rights Council meeting featuring a speech by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
(For UN Watch’s statement explaining why today’s UNHRC special meeting for Maduro violates the Council’s own mandate, click here.)
“This is a regime that throws the opposition leader in jail, brutalizes dissidents and student protesters, and which, paradoxically, denies entry to the Council’s own human rights investigators,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental human rights organization UN Watch, which spearheaded the initiative.
“The UN should not have elected Venezuela to the Human Rights Council two weeks ago, nor should it be rewarding Maduro with a global podium where no dissenting voices will be allowed,” Neuer added.
“Will the Council at least demand, when Maduro visits, that he reconsider his government’s rejection of requested visits over the past decade by the UNHRC expert on torture, the expert on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the expert on extrajudicial executions, the expert on the situation of human rights defenders, the expert on independence of judges and lawyers, the expert on freedom of association and assembly, the experts on arbitrary detention, and the expert on violence against women?”
Joint Appeal for UN Member States Not to Attend
UNHRC Speech by President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela
11 November 2015
We, the undersigned victims, family of victims, human rights activists and non-governmental organizations, appeal to your government to show solidarity with the victims of the Venezuelan government’s gross, systematic and widespread human rights abuses, by choosing not to attend the special meeting of the Human Rights Council that has been convened for this Thursday, 12 November, to hear an address by President Nicolás Maduro.
As you know, unlike all other sessions of the Human Rights Council, the format of the special meeting requested by Venezuela is such that only President Maduro will speak, while no other voices will be heard, neither from governments nor civil society.
We are grateful for the objections that were made by some members of the UNHRC Bureau, as recorded in the minutes of the November 6th meeting, including their recognition — in light of the imminent elections to be held in Venezuela — that this special meeting may give rise to negative perceptions.
The fear of negative perceptions over this special meeting is compounded by the extreme nature of Venezuela’s ongoing oppression of its people, and by Venezuela’s refusal — despite being an elected member of the Human Rights Council, and just now re-elected — to accept fact-finding visits by the Council’s own special human rights experts.
The requested UNHRC expert visits that have been rejected by Venezuela include:
- Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Visit requested in 2003; reiterated in 2009.
- Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Visit requested in November 2006; reminder in 2008.
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Visit requested in 2007; reminders in 2008, 2010, and February 3, 2015.
- Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers
Visit requested in 2011, reminder on 27 March 2014.
- Special Rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly
Visit requested on 23 September 2011; reminder on 30 October 2013.
- Working Group on arbitrary detention
Visit requested on May 13, 2011; reminders on August 6, 2013 and September 15, 2014.
- Special Rapporteur on violence against women
Visit requested on March 1, 2012.
- Special Rapporteur on torture
Visit requested in 2013.
- Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Visit requested on December 19, 2014.
Accordingly, we urge your government not to attend the UNHRC’s special meeting on Thursday, and not to legitimize the Maduro government’s record of abuse.
Thank you for your consideration.
Victims and family of victims from Venezuela
Lilian Tintori, wife of political prisoner and opposition leader Leopoldo López
Mitzy Capriles, wife of jailed Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, political prisoner
Julieta López, aunt of political prisoner and opposition leader Leopoldo López
Carlos Vecchio, Deputy Coordinator of opposition party Voluntad Popular, in exile
Juan Rodriguez, shot during demonstrations, now in exile
Venezuelan Activists and Non-Governmental Organizations
Eusebio Costa, student leader, President of Renovatio, member of the protest camp in Las Mercedes
Tamara Suju Roa, Executive Director, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos del Instituto Casla
Maria Alejandra Alvarez, Coordinator, Iniciativa Por Venezuela
Ernesto Tinoco, Egui Coordinador, Asociación para la Democracia en las Américas
Maite Macias, Spokesperson, Nuestra Voz
Rodrigo Diamanti, President, A World Without Censorship, Venezuela
Carolina Lindorf, Coordinadora de Prensa y Comunicaciones, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática Venezolana
Red De Apoyo Derechos Humanos Vente Venezuela
Justicia Y Proceso Venezuela
Federacion Interamericana De Abogados, Venezuela
Union Venezuela Society, Venezuela
Canadian Human Rights International Mision Venezuela
Justicia Y Libertad
Asociacion De Profesores De La Universidad Simon Bolivar
Centro De Paz Y Derechos Humanos De Universidad Central de Venezuela
Centro Popular De Formacion Ciudadana
Cruzada Para La Libertad De Los Presos Politicos En Venezuela
Ventana A La Libertad, Venezuela
Centro Lationamericano Para La No Violencia, Venezuela
Raquel Povchol, President, Dialogo Por Venezuela
José Javier Martínez, Youth Coordinator, VENTE Venezuela
Josefina Díaz, Tricolor Viena
Patricia Wallis, SOS Venezuela Belgium
Jose Manuel Pinto, Multicultureel Viva Venezuela
Ibelice Engelhardt, Multicultureel Viva Venezuela
Aneleygmar Rosales, Student Centre President, Universidad Humboldt, Venezuela
Alejandro Conejero, Deputy President of University Centres Federation, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela
Fabio Valentini, University Counsellor, Universidad Catolica Andrés Bello (UCAB), Venezuela
Jorge Osuna, University Counsellor, UCAB, Venezuela
Oliver López, University Counsellor, Universidad Santa María, Venezuela
Diego Serboni, Univesity Counsellor, Universidad Santa María, Venezuela
David Gómez, Human Rights Professor, Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, United Nations Watch
Carlos Ponce, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Freedom House
Christian Scharling, President, International Federation of Liberal Youth
Thor Halvorssen, President, Human Rights Foundation
Carlos Suarez, CEO, Justice International
Yuri Dzhibladze, President, Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
Jakub Klepal, Executive Director, Forum 2000 Foundation
Yang Jianli, President, Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China
John Suarez, International Secretary, Cuban Democratic Directorate
Sylvia G. Iriondo, President, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba)
Nataly Mariñan, Directora Ejecutiva, Libres
Irving Cordero, Coordinator, Diálogos sobre la libertad
Gabriel C. Salvia, Director General, Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina
International Organization for Victim Assistance
Martin Ängeby, Secretary General, Swedish International Liberal Center
Juan Jose Diaz Quintana, General Coordinator, Latin American Youth Network for Democracy
Micaela Hierro Dori, President, Centro de Investigación y Capacitación de Emprendedores Sociales
Roberlay Rodriguez Caraballo, Movimiento Deportivo Comunitario Salud Social
Lic. Cesar Ivan Mendoza Regal, Coordinador General, Plataforma Social Cubana Juventud Activa Cuba Unida
María de Lourdes Mariño Fernández, Mesa de Dialogo de la Juventud Cubana